SAGAMIHARA (Japan) • A blast ripped through a warehouse at a US military post and started a fire yesterday while, in another incident, a blaze broke out at a steel plant.
The explosion at the US Army's Sagami General Depot in the city of Sagamihara, some 40km south-west of Tokyo, sent sparks shooting into the sky but there were no reports of injuries. Japanese and US base firefighters delayed battling the fire while the contents of the building were assessed. Witnesses said they initially feared it was a bomb blast.
The explosion at the depot - which occupies about 200ha and employs nearly 600 people - rattled the windows of nearby buildings.
The fire died out on its own some hours later. The Pentagon said the building did not store ammunition or "radiological materials".
Separately, a huge blaze broke out at a steel pipe plant near Tokyo's Haneda international airport. The Kawasaki city fire department said the blaze at the plant, owned by a unit of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, may have been caused by workers who were using gas burners to dismantle the site. The fire was put out a few hours later.